We all know that the way we ride has an inextricable affect on our horse’s way of going. Your riding position is crucial to the way your horse moves.
Aesthetically, toes out are something that hit you slap in the face. I feel the heels down (or at least level) and toes in is important, but not because it is aesthetically pleasing.
Why’s and wherefore’s …
- If your toes are out so your knees will also be out.
- By ‘toes in’ I mean forward, which will allow your knees and thighs to lie flat on the saddle.
- If the toe and knee are out then it becomes really difficult to use your thighs and when you try you will grip up with the lower leg.
- Toes forward means that you are using the inside of your leg as you should.
- There should be no grease from your horse on the outer seam of your boots.
- Flexibility of your ankle is key to allowing your foot to rest correctly.
Does toes out spoil this picture? I think so.
A very simple exercise to do to help with toe forward is, when you are sat on the horse put your hand under your thigh from behind and lift your leg away from the saddle, pulling upper thigh back. It may
feel quite strange at first and it certainly will not last for long but if you keep doing it throughout your rides it will become the natural way for your thigh to lie.
Understanding where the root cause of the toes out issue lies is fundamental to addressing it. I like a level or slightly lower heel and to achieve this the angle of the pelvis and how you sit has a great deal to do with whether you are actually capable of achieving it.
Let’s be honest, there’s nothing worse than a rider jamming their heels down and toes in and then gripping with their upper leg and unbalancing themselves. The horse allows us the privilege of riding him, the least we can do is teach it to carry us well in a way that helps the horse. It’s a terrible shame that so many riders think about what others think of their riding. We might do well to concentrate more on what our horse’s think of our riding.
My best advice would be this: Do not concentrate on getting your toes forward. Concentrate on your pelvic position, seat and upper thigh’ this will put your toes exactly where they need to be. The best thing I ever did was give up on “heels down and toes in”, making my leg stiff, my muscles tense and sore. Your humungus efforts will be counter-productive. The toe out is a symptom of problems associated with your ability to relax and balance and absorb the horse’s movement through your seat.
Patricia – The Dressage Tipster